Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Highlights 2010

This past summer had huge challenges for me. By mid-April, I knew the veins in my legs from Our Little Pirate were already too swollen to ignore. Since then, almost every day I've had to wear these lovely, flesh-colored geriatric-looking compression socks over my legs.

Love these stock photos of them - trying to make them all sleek and attractive.

In reality these things are hideously ugly and HOT (as in temperature hot - not sexy hot). Very, very hot.

And as we moved into July, I slowly realized my body wasn't keeping up with the kids. Pretty much everything that wasn't necessary was dropped and if we went somewhere I couldn't sit down (or lay down), the plans were canceled.

So with a swollen Mom (in more areas than just the belly), three young kids, and a very hot summer - here's our favorite highlights...

And did we mention it's been really hot??

I've never been so excited for fall in all my life! Cooler weather, crunching leaves, pumpkins (and normal legs again) are just around the corner...

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Son & Santa Claus

(Let me preface this by saying I have already encouraged my kids to write their Christmas lists and post them on the fridge. You see...Santa Claus is going to be VERY busy - possibly in a hospital - before Christmas, so things need to get done now.)

Our Big Guy is now in 2nd grade, a big 7 1/2yr old, and he wants a cell phone. Badly. Of course, that's not happening. Definitely not now. Possibly never. The best parts come when I ask him why he needs a cell phone -

If you forget to take something out of the oven, Mom, I can call you and remind you.

"That's great honey, but I don't think I've ever forgotten to take things out of the oven."

But what if the school catches on fire, I'll need to call the firemen.

"I think the school will take care of that."

If there's a tornado or a hurricane!!!

"Again, babe, the school will cover that one."

But Isaac has one. So does Ryan and Max and Caleb, I think.

"Yes, that's true. But they are Dad's Deacons and they are Scouts. That means they're much older than 7." (side note: my boys ADORE Greg's calling as Scout Master. They love any chance to hang out with the Deacons.)

After our bazilionth talk with him over why he's not getting a cell phone, he went and did the next best thing...displaying his absolute faith and hope in the power of Santa Claus - he ran to the fridge and wrote "cell phone" with a picture on his Christmas list.

He's now completely confident it's coming...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Days of School

I look forward to this day almost from the first week of summer. I look forward to the blessed few hours of quiet time in my home. Shopping trips become a breeze with fewer distractions. Complex projects and long awaited goals suddenly become a reality. Our bathroom stays clean for hours, the pillows on the couch stay put and you can almost eat off the kitchen floor - it's that clean. Yes, I definitely look forward to the start of the school year.

So why do I feel like part of my soul goes walking out the door when they leave?

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Summer Sanity

I'm a schedule person. I like schedules and being busy. I start to get a little grumpy and batty if hours pass and nothing constructive is being done. Probably explains my never-ending cleaning obsession...

Anyway, summer is sometimes hard for me. I want my kids to relax, but I want them to be busy in good activities and "character building" projects. Last summer Greg and I created the Summer Job List. It has changed our lives - seriously. And it worked again this summer.

Absolutely love it.

Even Pretty Girl had her own chart this year (minus the homework and weeding section - she'll get that next summer).

I wont lie. The details of my house are the most clean during the summer. I have so many helpful hands.

There is sometimes inevitable push back and complaining, but Greg and I have found the days everyone completes their jobs and homework (which is most days) kids are happier, peace abounds and there is a wonderful spirit in our home. A large part is probably due to the fact that Mom is less crabby.

And when the weekly charts are done - we have wonderful times together on Friday afternoons when the kids get to pick their own rewards. Snow cones, Wonka candy-bars, slurpees - the list is endless.

I actually miss the Summer Job Chart during the school year when other activities take its place. My floor boards aren't nearly as clean, I miss the carefree days that follow some good activities in the morning, and it means I'm back in charge of weeding...

Monday, August 16, 2010

We've Found a Name!

The Little Pirate has a name. At last! It's such a relief. But for now, we'll keep referring to him as Our Little Pirate.

I was reading in Helaman this morning. I could not have found a better way to communicate how I name my children than in his words -

Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents...and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.

5:6 (emphasis added)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


This weekend Greg was once again the patient husband and endured another of my "family history" obsession trips. This time to the town of Scofield.

When my Hunter ancestors moved here from Clackmannanshire, Scotland, most of the family settled here in Scofield - with the majority of the sons going to work in the Winter Quarters coal mine (located in the small canyon to the right).

This town is cursed - at least in my view. Most visitors to Scofield reservoir never see this town - it's located in the southern tip of the lake - away from all the loading docks and state parks. Officially it's registered as a Ghost Town with the state of Utah.

In May of 1900 - around 10:00 in the morning, a major explosion occurred in the mine - more than 200 men were dead - leaving 107 widows and 270 fatherless children. At the time it was the worst mining explosion in American History (now it's #5). My great-grandfather Hunter was the sole male survivor from his family and subsequently left Scofield forever.

You can still visit the mine site if you have the courage to hop intimidating fences and are willing to hike in about 2 miles. Pretty Girl is standing in front of fence #2 that we had to jump. Pay no attention to that red sign with the $1000 reward for trespassers...

Blasted, decaying buildings, and the foundations of unknown structures litter the site. I was impressed with the detailed stone work on this one.

Near the river bed, you can still see the old slag heaps from the mining activities. These slag beds are lethal to the landscape and environment. They have ruined fish supplies, valleys and homes all over the world. (Read How Green Was My Valley - unforgettable story).

If the mining explosion wasn't bad enough, from 1890 to 1920, epidemics swept through the region killing hundreds and hundreds of children. My great-grandfather Hunter lost 4 of his children in 1 month.

We ate lunch at the deserted and much-overgrown Scofield cemetery.

This cemetery is beyond depressing. And those of you who know me - you understand my love of cemeteries. Not here. There are hundreds of unmarked graves and 90% of the bodies are men who were killed in the mine or little babies who died during the epidemics.

Like I said - this town feels cursed.

** **

On a final, lighter note - the best part of the day was our return to Greg's car. He had been extremely nervous leaving his beloved FJ behind while our family scaled heavily posted "No Trespassing" gates and hiked a good distance away from viewing safety of the car.

I kept assuring Greg we'd be fine. Nobody would touch his car. I was wrong.

It took him 2 full water bottles to get the cow saliva off the car. Apparently cow saliva and car paint don't mix well...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our "New" Shed

Our shed in the backyard has definitely seen better days. In fact, one of the major projects on our list when we bought the house was to paint the shed. And in true McKinnon fashion, it only took a little under 2 years to get it finished.



We learned a lot about exterior shed colors over this project. The major point being that if we could do it again (we're not) we'd chose different colors. The dark brown and white is nice but it seems REALLY obvious. As if our whole neighborhood can now look into our backyard and say, "Wow! There's a shed!"

Maybe gray and white would have been more subtle....

Next project - the master bedroom walls and ceiling.